Archive for February, 2003

Dust

Friday, February 28th, 2003

So, as many of you know, our house has been undergoing some … upgrades, and as a result, the air in the house has been rather dusty, a good portion of the time. A couple days ago, my computer started making some horrible noises. Normally, I leave it on all the time, but I started having to turn it off because I was a.) worried that the cooling fans would seize up, and the system would overheat, and b.) the noise was keeping me up at night.

Turns out, the problem was that all the fans in the machine were shot, or needed some cleaning. The CPU heatsink fan was so gunked up, it’d get “stuck”, even though the bearings were actually still alright. After cleaning that out, and purchasing a pin heat sink, rather than the fin style that’s more common (the pin heatsinks are really, really cool from a heat-dissipation perspective, and surprisingly, substantially more efficient at heat exchange than the traditional model. On top of that, I know the guy who invented them, so it’s sort of entertaining, in that respect). I bought a kit with the pin sink and a fan, but the fan was SO LOUD that you could hear it in the dining room, on the opposite side of the house from the computer. So, I cleaned out the old fan, and mounted it to the new sink, and things were good. Mounted the crazy-ass fan to the old fin style sink, and now I’ve got something if I wanna overclock my old Celeron, which I really don’t.

But, that didn’t fix the problem. I knew the muffin fan in my power supply was gunked up, so I opened up the power supply, and took out a giant dustball that happened to contain a fan. Blew out the power supply, too, and promptly started sneezing. I mean, this thing was pretty much a block of solid dust, not unlike what you’d find in a vacuum cleaner bag. But, I put in an Antec Blue LED muffin fan, so now the back of my computer glows blue. No, I wouldn’t have gotten it, except for the fact that it was identical in price to all the other fans, so it didn’t seem to matter. ‘sides, it looks cool, sorta, when all the lights in the house are off…

But still, the really irritating noise persisted. So, after poking around a bit, it turned out my video card’s processor fan was the culprit of the nasty grinding noise. The problem is, when my computer’s on its side, and running (which is what orientation it’s in when I’m working on it) the fan’s quiet. But after about 30 seconds upright, it starts making some really hideous noises. Took off that fan, blew out the clogged up heatsink, and felt the rotation of the fan. Sure enough, the bearings in this little fan aren’t sealed, and the bearings were shot. All crunchy on the inside. Another trip to CompUSA got me a not-quite-right-sized replacement, but it was good enough to screw in in a way that held it on ok. Higher powered fan, too, so that’s good, ’cause that card (GeForce2 Pro, Hercules) gets pretty darn hot.

So. That’s every fan in the system. My computer’s still not particularly *quiet*, say, but at least it doesn’t sound like I’m running over cockroaches with a go-kart anymore.

Construction

Monday, February 24th, 2003

Man, there’s definitely something frustrating about living in a house that’s constantly under construction. I’m more or less ok with it most of the time, or so, but there’s definitely a desire to have this whole project finished already. I mean, there’s not a completely ludicrous amount of work to be done. Mostly new drywalling, and dealing with floors and such. Not utterly terrible stuff, just hard to do while living in the house. There’ll be a point where we move rooms around, and start ripping up the place a room at a time, but it’s not a particularly speedy process, say. Still, the problem is more or less just a lack of “moved in” ness that’s getting to be pretty frustrating. Ah, well.

Blogging

Friday, February 21st, 2003

It’s definitely a little weird trying to blog, and switching between politics and videogames. It sorta makes both look ridiculous. Videogames, in the face of some world politics look like, well, a waste of time, and politics, on the other hand, just looks so absurd that it makes many videogames look like somber, serious works of art. It’s strange. I mean, if you’d written a movie based on Bush’s presidency, no one would buy into it – the premise would be too utterly ridiculous. Yet, here we are, and real life has utterly trumped any sort of fictional media. I dunno. So I’m not really sure what to write about, in a sense, because I’m not sure if anyone’s actually reading all this nonsense anyway.

The knee: The knee’s getting better, slowly. I’m recovering from a January operation to fix up some cartiledge and ligament damage that was getting un-ignorable. I’ve got about 70% of my range of motion back, and I can walk relatively normally now, which is good. Nothing weird has happened to the knee yet. Essentially, I can do almost anything but carry loads up stairs, or squat. Which makes working on the house a bit of a pain in the ass, at times. But whatever. No big shakes.

Random Thoughts

Friday, February 21st, 2003

Things that I’m thinking about:

1.) Bush can’t be out of office soon enough.

2.) Colin McRae Rally 3 is out this week. Looks nice.

3.) Eric Altermann’s book What Liberal Media? is pretty fantastic.

4.) I’m constantly surprised at the number of stupid people out there.

5.) Nice to see the days getting longer again.

6.) Trying to find time to play Capcom vs. SNK2 or Ghost Recon on Live.

7.) Deathrow apparently only sold 17K copies. A damn shame, as it’s a fantastic little game.

8.) Been doing a really bad job of keeping in touch with people.

O’Reilly

Tuesday, February 11th, 2003

At what point does someone completely lose their credibility?

Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, completely blew his top at a guest – as chronicled here.

I’m not going to resummarize that page, aside from that Jeremy Glick’s father was killed in the WTC, and he’s against the war in the Middle East. Bill O’Reilly calls him un-American, tells him his late father wouldn’t agree with him, and that he’s yelling – YELLING – at Glick, and will cut his mic out of *respect* for Glick’s father.

At what point do we all just *have* to point and laugh?

I would have thought, honestly, that O’Reilly’s crossed that line long before, but strangely, he continues to have supporters. People who say that he was *right* to get angry at Glick, and that his assertion that the Afghan people are indistinguishable from the Taliban, or Al-Qaida isn’t monstrous and blatantly ignorant, but rather, correct. But at what point does it become obvious to the general public that this guy’s supporters are complete buffoons, and that idiotic hatemongering and complete and utter lunacy deserve a place on national television? I would say, in a sense, that it doesn’t matter when that happens to the general public. It happens when his show stops generating revenue. So, kill the advertisers, kill the show. Definitely something to think about.

Videogame Journalism

Tuesday, February 11th, 2003

Video game journalism is sort of a weird beast.

A lot of other media have respected journalists that cover them almost exclusively. Literature, for instance, or even movies – and I’m not talking about things like Access Hollywood and such, but even those serve to disseminate information about the industry to the casual moviegoer. In terms of videogame journalism, there are a number of print magazines, virtually none of which are worth mentioning. From Electronic Gaming Monthly (which is probably the best of them), to nonsensical garbage like Game Informer, the internet has made the print magazines obsolete.

That’s not a bad thing in itself, necessarily, but what we’ve basically got is a choice between Gamespot, and IGN. There are smaller sites, sure, like Gamers.com, and even things you can classify as competitors, like Gamespy. But the two hulking gorillas of the internet game journalism industry are without question Gamespot and IGN. Therein lies the problem, perhaps.

To get it out of the way, there are only a handful of videogame journalists I have any respect for. Steven Kent, Wagner James Au, James Mielke, Joe Fielder, and Greg Kasavin. No one else really springs to mind. Three of those, as far as I’m aware, are Gamespot columnists, or alumni. Steven Kent writes for MSNBC, and WJA periodically contributes to Salon.com, among other things.

The rest of the industry? Amateurs, at best. Take a site like Teamxbox.com – it’s a rare day that there aren’t spelling mistakes on the front page. One of their more prolific reviewers, who goes by the name of UltimaAMD, gives us this gem:

“Hong Kong action movies, they are some of the best martial arts films ever made even the ones made twenty years ago.”

While UltimaAMD’s grammar skills are remarkably bad, it’s unfortunately characteristic of his competition, as well. And even if most reviewers can get around spelling mistakes, or horrific grammar, many simply don’t write like professionals. Far too often, someone gets really excited about a game, and forgets how to approach it with a critical eye. Take a game like Azurik: The Rise of Perathia. A horrible game by virtually any standard, most reviewers spent so much time mocking the blue-ness of the main character, they forgot to mention the things that actually make it horrible, like the muddy graphics, the linear, and completely mindless puzzles, or the floaty and unresponsive control.

The problem appears to be that msot game reviewers simply aren’t writers. They appear, by and large, to be high school kids writing about game. And whether that’s IGN’s inane sexual innuendo, in regards to DOA: Xtreme Beach Volleyball, “We get all up in Tecmo’s fantasy sports sim and come away satisfied,” to their promotional “You can’t spell Ignorant Slut without IGN,” the writing affects the perception of the media that they’re writing about. If this is the best the game industry can come up with, we’re screwed. Few and far between are well-researched, thorough *journalism*, like Gamespot’s Daikatana development diary, or Steven Kent’s The First Quarter (now titled The Ultimate History of Videogames).

Sure, videogames are still in their relative infancy. The narrative styles, controls, and technology are still rapidly developing, and that development definitely stifles the mainstream acceptance of the medium as a whole. But until the industry asserts that it *needs* better journalistic coverage – that sophomoric “humor” or just plain crap writing aren’t *good enough*, then we’ll be stuck with the trash we have now. Gamespot aspires to be better, and for that, I keep my Gamespot Complete subscription…

Later, Joe!

Monday, February 10th, 2003

So… What’s new. My housemate Joe moved out, in order to have a place of his own. Not a bad thing, as it gives us some space to start remodelling upstairs. Gonna shuffle some rooms around, and throw down some new sheetrock, to replace the cracked lath and plaster that’s probably been there since 1926. Not something that’ll happen for a little bit yet, though, because my knee’s still pretty hosed. I’m at about 100 degrees of motion, or thereabouts, but still 2-3 degrees off from straight, and I should have about 2 degrees of hyperextension. That part of rehab is definitely coming slowly, and it’s somewhat problematic to do, because I sit in a goddamn chair all day long at work, so it gets really stiff, even though I try to move it around a bit.

Looking forward to Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO for the xbox, which drops in on Wednesday – it’s the first online-enabled fighting game in the US, and I’m pretty psyched to see if some of the people I know around the country are up for a beat-down with Crazy Ken, or the too-slow-to-use Haohmaru. Got a Nordic Track Health Rider 830 elliptical trainer, which has been really nice, ’cause it let’s me strengthen my quite atrophied quads without too much knee stress. I tried to use my bike on a wind trainer, but the range of motion was too great. Stationary bikes are apparently ok, ’cause their shorter standard crank size is good. But my bike’s got some relatively long cranks, and I just don’t have the flexibility yet to use ’em. Maybe a rowing machine to get a little more upper-body work, and we’re set, in terms of exercise equipment. We’ll see. Depends on whether the elliptical starts gathering dust or not…